Update: June 29, 2022: I now have over 1,014,407 views on Quora and a page title Life Inside and Out. Check it out to see updated content to a variety of questions and answers. Thanks!
These Top Three Posts have the highest number of views on Quora.com, where I’ve had a total of 105 K views (all content) since I began posting answers on December 16, 2018. https://www.quora.com/profile/Wayne-T-Dowdy
Most viewed posts within the last thirty days (01/25/19-02/25/19):
Answered: January 26, 2019, by Wayne T. Dowdy
How are new inmates treated when they first come to prison?
Prison life has a lot of variables. The older cons often keep a new prisoner at a distance until they learn more about them, such as their criminal history and certain characteristics (e.g., depending on the old-timers, most want to know if they’re a rat, sex offender, coward, drug user, rich or poor).
If the new prisoner gets accepted, he will be looked out for and provided things people need walking in the door with nothing but a blanket roll (e.g., in the federal system: sheets, blanket, mini-care packet with a small packet of soap, deodorant, toothpaste, and a tooth brush).
Then there are those who will befriend a new prisoner to use and take advantage of, while others will truly befriend the new arrival by treating him the same way he wants to be treated.
Most new people are greeted by other prisoners, who will ask questions, with the main ones being, “Where you from?” “Who you run with?” or some variants, thereof, and if accepted, will provide the new prisoner with needed items, such as cosmetics, a few soups, maybe even a radio and headphones, if he has impeccable credentials for life inside prison.
If rejected or from the wrong area or gang, he’ll get run off the compound or carried off after suffering more physical abuse than he may deserve.
21 k Views, 39-Upvotes
Can you survive and stay healthy on food provided to you in prison? Is the food clean and nutritious enough, or do you need to order out like the rest of the inmates?
Updated: February 19, 2019, by Wayne T. Dowdy
I can only write about my life while serving time in the Georgia Department of Corrections and in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. This is what I wrote, in part, on December 19, 2016 in “Gratitude and More”:
“12/25/2011: On Christmas Day, I sat in my cell reading my favorite magazine (THE SUN). “Chow time,” the guard shouted.
“I rushed to the chow hall. Inside, I sat at a rectangular table of four with three of my peers. One person stood to leave. Each of us exchanged Christmas greetings, wishing him a Merry Christmas before a 27-year-old youngster sat down to take his place.
“The one who sat to the right of the youngster had just complained how the Cornish game hen was small. I had previously tried to maintain the attitude of gratitude at the table by commenting how it was good, though, it was smaller than those we had had in the past. It was still tasty. I simply agreed with the other guy about it being smaller than usual. I labeled it as a “Cornish Game Chick.”
“That’s when the youngster sat down. “There sure are a lot of complaining people at this prison,” he said.
“His words filled me with guilt. He had once told me that both of his parents were still in state prison. I realized his parents were probably doing worse than all of us at the table.
“The youngster’s comment helped redirect the nature of our conversations toward what we were grateful for.
“I shared my favorite saying by an author whose name I do know to give him or her their credit due (“I complained of having no shoes until I met a man with no feet.”).
“I continued to express gratitude for the well-prepared meal; knowing we were all fortunate to have what sat before us, as we compared our plight to others incarcerated in state and other federal prisons, who probably wished they could eat as good as we were.
“This is what we had to complain about: a Cornish game hen, black-eyed peas, which were really good; collard greens, rolls or wheat bread (I chose wheat bread); an individually packaged cherry pie, chocolate cup cake, and some other stuff I probably forgot. I ate my fill.
“Each of us walked away feeling more grateful for the meal we had been blessed with because we had stopped for a moment to remember the less fortunate in life.
“Not only do I have two feet and nice shoes, I have a fat belly filled with gratitude. I hope each of you have a wonderful Christmas meal and feel fortunate for the freedom you share in a less than perfect world.
“ Along the same theme as above, I wrote this on America’s Turkey Day:
“THANKSGIVING DAY 2016: Happy Thanksgiving Day to each of you. If you feel like you don’t have much to be thankful for because of the hardships life has thrown at you this year, stop to think of all you have to be grateful for; perhaps you have food to eat; two feet, two arms, shoes on your feet, and clothes to warm your body, a place to stay and be safe. Feel fortunate.
“When I find myself disgruntled for having to wait for an hour in the commissary to purchase a few items, I try to stop and remember those who wish they had my problems, financially able to shop for a few items needed to maintain a decent level of living inside this prison. That makes me feel grateful for the opportunity, rather than disgruntled and agitated for having to wait as I listen to loud mouths shouting to the man next to them, disturbing the peace, killing the sound of silence.
“Upon remembrance of the less fortunate, I find myself grateful for the simple things in life I often take for granted. Be thankful for those you have in your life who love and care for you. Happy Thanksgiving!” [End Quote] GRATITUDE AND MORE
[2017–2018]: The recent federal budgets reduced available funds to prison administrators. When a warden saves money by operating under the approved budget, he or she may receive a bonus. At the last federal institution I lived at, the warden received hefty bonuses by reducing the operating cost.
Thousands of dollars saved came from her reducing food service expenditures and by reducing staff, much like private prisons operate to theoretically save taxpayer dollars.
Many times I sat eating and feeling regret for those who could not afford to have food in their locker to supplement the meal; however, overall, the food was well-prepared and most of the staff allowed inmates to go through the line twice, because they knew the meal was less than what the menu required to meet dietary requirements for adequate nutrition.
State prisoners are probably fed less but could survive with what is served. Though they could survive, that does not mean they would not walk away hungry and suffer from health-related issues due to dietary deficiencies.
5.1k Views, 15-Upvotes
When does the day start for inmates in federal prison?
Answered: February 4, 2019, by Wayne T. Dowdy
From my experience, when the day starts for federal inmates varies according to the prison and the employment position held by the prisoner. For most of the prisons I was in, which included four United States Penitentiaries and one Federal Correctional Institution, the doors opened by 6:00 am under normal circumstances.
In the lower-security prisons, certain prisoners assigned to food service (chow hall) may leave the unit for work as early as 4:00 am, whereas the majority who work in the chow hall won’t leave until approximately 6:30-7:00 am.
Those schedules and processes vary according to the security rating of the prisoner and institution. For instance, high-security institutions that house inmates assigned as Max. Custody, may not allow those inmates to work in certain positions where more readily-available weapons or tools may be used to aid in an escape plan, or during high-risk periods (when visibility is reduced, such as when foggy or before sunrise or after sunset).
For thirteen of the thirty-years, I was a maximum custody prisoner which required that I stay in a high-security institution; however, the only consistency in management techniques to control me was inconsistency. The way I was managed because of my custody/security rating, varied according to the Captain of the institution.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons’ program statement for Inmate Security Designation and Custody Classification (P.5100.08), approved 09/12/2006, and other referenced documentation, establishes security protocols for management of its prisoners.
In the Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (UNICOR), where I worked for most of the thirty-years I served, we reported to work at 7:30 am. The cell house doors opened at 6:00 am for the general population to begin their day.
2.8k Views, 11-Upvotes
If I add in the fourth, the previous champ comes in with 18.4 K total views and 84-Upvotes.
How does serving time in a federal prison compare to serving time in a state prison?
(Question Modified) Answered: December 26, 2018, by Wayne T. Dowdy
When I first began my sentence, an old-timer said, “The states control you physically and the feds do it psychologically.”
I found that true. The feds use incentive-mechanisms to control its prisoners (gives prisoners something to lose, recreation privileges, more freedom of movement, better living conditions; something authorities take or restrict access to for misbehavior).
The typical prisoner mentality in the federal system is milder, less violent than many state prisoners. Again, an old-timer gave me a few words of wisdom:
“The federal system lulls people to sleep because it’s more laid-back, and there’s not as much violence every day, so guys forget where they’re at because they get away with so much. And then when one of them does something stupid to the wrong person, he gets stabbed or killed.”
I behaved better in the federal system than when I served time in the State of Georgia, where violence dominates every day activities.
My published writings show the difference between the young knucklehead I was while serving time in Georgia where I didn’t have much to lose, in comparison to the responsible man I become, due in part to the aging process and having programs available to help me change. Read The Price of Change by Wayne T. Dowdy, Midnight Express Books, for an example of the differences in my behaviors in the State versus the Federal system.
Being paid for working in the Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR) made a significant difference because it allowed me to take care of myself, rather than to burden my family for support, and that made me feel better as a human being.
The difference in my behavior illustrates the effectiveness of incentive programs, as well as the difference in the life of a prisoner serving time in a federal or state system; however, prisoner experiences vary.